A checklist of reptiles of Kerala, India


Muhamed Jafer Palot


Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Western Ghat Regional Centre, Jafer Khan Colony, Eranhipalam, Kozhikode, Kerala 673006, India




doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.2002.7.13.8010-8022 | ZooBank: urn:lsid:zoobank.org:pub:FF9AD693-3492-445A-B183-52DEE350F619


Editor: Mewa Singh, University of Mysore, Mysuru, India. Date of publication: 17 November 2015 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # o4306 | Received 11 May 2015 | Final received 23 September 2015 | Finally accepted 29 September 2015


Citation: Palot, M.J. (2015). A checklist of reptiles of Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(13): 80108022; http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.2002.7.13.8010-8022


Copyright: © Palot 2015. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: None.


Conflict of Interest: The author declares no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to the Director, Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata and the Officer-in-Charge, Zoological Survey of India, Kozhikode for facilities and encouragements. I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of my team members viz., PO Nameer, Praveen J, Rajeev Raghavan, A Bijukumar and Sandeep Das in getting this checklist into a final shape. Sandeep Das contributed the images used along with this paper.






Abstract: A checklist of reptiles of Kerala State is presented, along with their Scientific, English and Malayalam names, endemic status, conservation status in the latest IUCN Red List category, different Schedules of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and the Appendices of CITES. A total of 173 species under 24 families belonging to three orders are recorded from Kerala. Of these, 87 species are endemic to the Western Ghats, which include the 10 Kerala endemics. Of the 173 species, 23 are listed in the various threatened categories of IUCN.

Keywords: CITES, Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, Malayalam name, vernacular name, Western Ghats.



Research on reptiles in India dates back to more than 200 years, coinciding with the formation of the erstwhile British East India Company. The monumental works on Indian reptiles are Catalogue of the Reptiles inhabiting the Peninsular of India (Jerdon 1853), The Reptiles of British India (Gunther 1864), Fauna of British India - Reptilia and Batrachia (Boulenger 1890) and the three volume series of The Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma, including the whole of Indo-Chinese sub-region (Smith 1931, 1935, 1943). The work of Smith stood the test of time and forms the standard work on this subject including the Kerala region. Since the publications of above cited works, our knowledge on the reptile fauna of the region has been enriched further by the publications of Sharma (1998, 2002, 2007), Inger et al. (1984), Rajendran (1985), Murthy (1981, 1985), Tikader & Sharma (1992), Das (1997, 2002, 2003), Molur & Walker (1998), Daniel (2002), Whitaker & Captain (2004), Vogel & Van Rooijen (2009), Vasudevan (2009), Chandramouli & Ganesh (2010), Venugopal (2010), Ganesh & Chandramouli (2013), Srinivasulu et al. (2014) and Ganesh et al. (2014). Altogether 518 species of reptiles have been reported from India (Aengals et al. 2011). A few more species have been reported from India since then (Smith et al. 2012; Harikrishnan et al. 2013; Aengals & Ganesh 2013; Vogel & Ganesh 2013; Cyriac & Umesh 2014; Mirza & Sanap 2014; Mirza et al. 2014; Amarasinghe et al. 2015; Guptha et al. 2015; Ágarwal & Karanth 2015).

In Kerala, reptiles comprise poorly studied classes of vertebrates. Though there have been a few attempts to study reptiles in Kerala (Beddome 1878, 1886; Boulenger 1890; Ferguson 1895; Wall 1905, 1918; Murthy 1981; Inger et al. 1984; Radhakrishnan 1996, 1997; Thomas et al. 1997; Thomas & Easa 1997; Joseph & Easa 1997; Zacharias 1997; Easa 1998; Abraham et al. 1999; Ajith 2000; Palot & Radhakrishnan 2002, 2003, 2004; Chandramouli & Ganesh 2010; Cyriac et al. 2011; Jins et al. 2014). A book on the Snakes of Kerala in Malayalam by Adiyodi (1965) is the first published work pertaining to the snakes of the state. The first comprehensive checklist on the reptilian fauna of the State was compiled by Radhakrishnan (1997) who listed 169 species. Subsequently, Palot & Radhakrishnan (2003) compiled a checklist of vernacular names of snakes of Kerala. Further, as part of biodiversity documentation, the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) published a series of checklists on the biodiversity of the State including reptiles (Easa & Ramachandran 2004). More recently, Palot & Radhakrishnan (2011) updated the checklist of reptiles of Kerala by listing 173 species from the region.

In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in research on the reptilian fauna of the State, with several new species’ descriptions from the region (Manamendra-Aracchi et al. 2007; Gower & Winkler 2007; Vogel & van Rooijen 2011; Cyriac & Umesh 2014). For the compilation of this checklist, the works of Smith (1931, 1935, 1943), Tikader & Shrama (1992), Daniel (2002), Das (2002), Whitaker & Captain (2004), Venugopal (2010) and Aengals et al. (2011) were also referred to.

The current checklist of Kerala are represented by 173 species in 24 families under three orders (Table 1). Of these, 87 species are endemic to the Western Ghats, which include 10 species endemic to Kerala. The taxonomy and nomenclature follow Uetz & Hosek (2015) while the vernacular names have been taken from various sources (Adiyodi 1965; Radhakrishnan 1997; Palot & Radhakrishnan 2004; 2011). Marine reptiles in the list are indicated in blue colour.




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